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Smithfield town staff receives positive audit

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SMITHFIELD — The town of Smithfield received a positive economic report at the March 5 town council meeting. The 2017-18 audit was presented by Alan Thompson of Whiteville-based Thompson, Price, Scott, Adams and Co.

“The audit presentation was delayed because the town implemented new software,” said Finance Director Greg Siler. “There’s good news in this presentation and everyone is to be commended.”

“Smithfield is in good financial shape,” said Thompson. “All three of the town’s funds — the general, electric and water and sewer funds — are positive. The town is in a really strong financial situation and it represents the town and everyone involved very well.”

The town’s general fund, or total fund balance, for 2018 was $12,268,977, up from 2017’s $10,130,169. The fund has shown a steady increase over the past five years. In 2014, the total fund balance was $7,475,665.

The property tax collection rate for 2018 was 99.85 percent and the property tax rate has remained at .57 cents for the past five years.

The town’s total cash balance for 2018 was $27,893,929. That breaks down as $10,343,081 in the general fund, $10,255,748 in the electric fund and $7,295,100 in the water and sewer fund.

Ad valorem taxes generated the largest percentage of the town’s general fund balance at 47.55 percent, followed by intergovernment revenue at 31.76 percent and sales and services at 19.1 percent. Other taxes, licenses and permit, investment earnings and miscellaneous revenue account for the remainder.

On the expense side, public safety was the biggest-ticket item at 44.57 percent followed by cultural and recreational, 14.91 percent; general government, 11.21 percent; debt service, 10.73 percent; street and public works, 9.55 percent and sanitation, 9.03 percent.

Siler said one change that boosted the town’s economic strength is a change in philosophy.

“In the past, it’s always been pay as go,” said Siler. “The trend now is to set money aside for anticipated expenditures.”

Thompson said his firm encountered no significant difficulties in dealing with town staff in performing or completing its audit. There were also no disagreements with town management.

The auditors made two recommendations, that the town’s balance sheets need to be reviewed each month and that all accounts that should clear out be appropriately reflected. The town also needs to review its older accounts receivable balances to determine if those accounts are uncollectible.